Esports, or competitive online gaming, is a market that’s growing exponentially. From growth in viewership, awareness and revenue, to the increase in platforms and players, the market is set to hit $1.1B in 2019 and projected to reach $1.8B by 2022.
Located in Prince George, Volcanic Media is an esports startup that knows the influence of the gaming community and are dedicated to growing the esports scenes throughout Canada. They are the primary organizing group behind the newly founded National Esports Scholastic League and aim to help recognize and develop e-athletes, gamers, and content creators by creating a rich foundation of technology and digital media for youth and young adults in a positive and innovative environment.
In 2018, Volcanic Media participated in Innovate BC’s Venture Acceleration Program through our partners at Innovation Central Society. Through the program they connected with a group of business and technology mentors to take their idea further.
We caught up with Shawn Caldera, President and CEO of Volcanic Media, to discover the impact our program had and what’s next for his company.
Q: What do you do, and why are you passionate about it?
Shawn: The thing about my position in the company is that what I do changes every day. The big part is keeping a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the esports world, and how our startup can help accelerate certain aspects of the industry.
Q: At what stage was your startup when you entered the Venture Acceleration Program? What problems or business challenges were you trying to solve?
Shawn: We entered right at the concept stage. The big thing we needed help with was establishing an esports startup of our kind. The industry and market are relatively new to Canada so trying to solve staffing needs, acquire funding, and figure out how to research and further develop were all challenges. Innovation Central Society’s Venture Acceleration Program was able to help us with these things.
Q: What made the Venture Acceleration Program stand out from other options?
Shawn: The program stood out because it was centred around making sure that we were able to succeed, whilst maintaining and supporting the core ideas I had for the company. By giving us suggestions through mentorship, Volcanic was able to try new things and see what stuck and what didn’t. It also stood out because it was led by entrepreneurs who understood the process and had been through the startup experience before.
Q: What are some updates or successes you can share since Volcanic Media participated in the Venture Acceleration Program? How did the program help or contribute to your success?
Shawn: By joining the acceleration program, we were able to ground ourselves and find niche parts of the burgeoning esports industry that we wanted to focus on from day one - we just got better at doing it with the guidance from the program. Since then, Volcanic has made Canadian history by offering one of Canada’s first esports scholarships, we are building a revolutionary platform and have connected communities that never would have thought of having esports.
Q: What's the main reason you would recommend the Venture Acceleration Program?
Shawn: As someone who had mainly focused on biochemistry and other career pursuits in that field, with just an esports idea and a lot of energy, the Venture Acceleration Program is something I highly recommend. Main reason? They take the idea you have and figure out how to make it work. There’s nothing else to it, no sacrificing the vision you have. Sure, you may have to scale accordingly, but at the end of the day, what makes the program so valuable is it gives you the tools to become the most successful entrepreneur you can be, with your business remaining 100% yours. It’s entrepreneur to entrepreneur, and that’s what makes it so amazing.
Q: What tips or advice do you have for start-ups or entrepreneurs living outside of the Metro Vancouver area?
Shawn: Find likeminded people around you - those creators, thinkers, dreamers and makers. We’re all out there, waiting to find those networks to build upon. Entrepreneurship is more than just coming up with the right idea at the right time. It’s also about having the right group of people to support your ideas. And part of that group is your local accelerator, or the one closest to you. They are out there: find them, and you’ve started your path to success.
Q: What are some milestones you’re most looking forward to in the year ahead?
Shawn: The biggest milestone we see happening soon is the release of our platform, project ATLAS. ATLAS will give the tools to other esports enthusiasts and esports leaders to build the communities, the events and the journeys they have always aspired to have. It really feels like ATLAS will embody everything Volcanic has done and is able to do by giving those tools to the public. Then everyone will have Volcanic in their pocket.
If you’re a B.C. entrepreneur looking to connect with business experts and mentors, you can access our Venture Acceleration Program in ten locations throughout the province. From Prince George to Vancouver to Kelowna and beyond, you can launch your idea from anywhere.